By Shlomie Katash
Following the shutdown of the Boylan Hall cafeteria, Brooklyn College officially welcomed multiple food trucks on Nov. 1 as part of an effort to increase food accessibility on campus.
The effort to bring in food trucks on campus was primarily organized by BC’s Auxiliary Enterprises Corporation (AEC) and Undergraduate Student Government (USG) as a response to the campus losing the cafeteria’s only food vendor, Mangia Fresco, over the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[W]e are taking swift action to minimize the inconvenience to the campus community and provide food service options on campus,” announced BC’s Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Alan Gilbert in an email sent out schoolwide on Oct. 3. “I want to assure you that every decision we make is with the utmost consideration for the well-being and satisfaction of our campus community.” Some efforts have already been made, including the acquisition of two “Farmer’s Fridge” vending machines on campus, providing students with healthier meal options.
About four weeks after Gilbert’s email was sent out, BC shared that their brand new “Campus Food Truck Initiative” is “ready to roll” in an email to students on Oct. 31. Currently, there are three food trucks that have been offered to students on a rotating basis throughout the last week. There is La Braza, which sells Central and South American cuisine, Moshe’s Falafel, which provides students with kosher and vegan options, and Wafels & Dinges, which carries sweet and savory waffles and other treats.
Under USG’s current leadership, President Carrie Ebbin and Vice President Huda Ayaz, promised to bring more food options onto campus as a part of their campaign. The food trucks represent the first step toward a campus with more eating options for students.
When advocating for food trucks with BC’s administration, USG took into account student voices and diversity when determining which food trucks would be the best fit for the campus.
“We definitely took into consideration student voices. Students reached out to us, we reached out to them to find out what they would like,” Dylan Karlowski, USG’s press director, told The Vanguard. “We reached out to different vendors. We researched to find out what had worked on other colleges. Basically, through a combination of research and involving student voices, we are able to advocate for what we think the college wants.”
While updates regarding food truck availability are solely released on a week-to-week basis via email, USG is planning to make efforts to increase the ease of that information’s accessibility.
“We’re currently working on a list that will publicize exactly what food trucks are coming out. There are emails being released, but we’ll also be posting on student gov Instagram some graphics so that people are more well-informed,” said Karlowski. “We’re also working on compiling menus so that way people can see what’s being offered.”
Food trucks aside, USG plans to continue working with BC’s administration to continue expanding the availability of food on campus.
“[Food trucks are] part of a three-tiered plan for addressing a lack of food on campus,” said Karlowski. “This is step one where, as a short-term fix, we have these food trucks, which USG helped in advocating for and pushing the administration to continue with as an idea. The mid-term solution will be satellite kitchens, which are bringing in vendors who will operate temporarily. Long-term will be getting a vendor back in the cafeteria.”
The food trucks joined campus shortly after some students informed The Vanguard of expired items being sold in the vending machines at the Student Center. One student, in particular, who wished to remain anonymous, actually bought products from a vending machine in the basement of the Student Center without realizing they were expired at first, which he explained in an email to The Vanguard sent on Oct. 31. This student is currently demanding a refund. A Vanguard staffer went to the Student Center following this email on the same day and confirmed that the items in the vending machines were expired.